An office building in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. The capital city's main business district remains strangely desolate and depopulated long after pandemic lockdowns ended with federal employees, who account for one-in-three downtown jobs, embracing working from home. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
New York CNN  — 

Hybrid? Full-time? Flexible schedule? Fully remote? Remote optional? Shortened work weeks? The return-to-office debate isn’t going away — but one aspect may be coming to a close, and workers won.

CEOs are letting up on the battle to get employees to return to the office full-time, five days a week, according to a CEO survey from The Conference Board.

Just 4% of US CEOs and 4% of CEOs worldwide say they will prioritize bringing workers back to the office full time, the survey found. Instead, attracting and retaining talent is the top internal priority for business leaders.

“CEOs are perhaps conceding that they need to let this issue go. There are so many other major issues that they need to deal with,” Diana Scott, the US human capital center leader at the Conference Board said. The Conference Board surveyed more than 1,200 executives, including 630 CEOs, across the United States, Latin America, Japan and Europe.

But that doesn’t mean some US companies aren’t taking a hardline stance in the new year. UPS recently announced it is ditching its hybrid work policy, and it’s now calling corporate employees back full time, five days a week. The policy will begin March 4, according to an internal memo shared with CNN.

That announcement is an anomaly, Scott said. Instead, it looks like “hybrid is here to stay.”

“It’s become a non-issue at this point,” she said.

Toward the latter half of 2023, major companies announced they were getting stricter on office work — but notably didn’t announce a full return. In August, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said employees who don’t adhere to the 3-days-a-week in office rule could see their days at the tech giant numbered. Meta last year told employees that, after Labor Day, managers would track attendance for its own 3-day-a-week policy. Even Zoom, which powered the work from home (WFH) era, called its employees back into the office.

But if a full-time return to office is dying, its antithesis may be as well. An EY US survey of C-suite corporate leaders found that full-time remote work plummeted from 34% in 2022 to just 1% in 2023. Scott noted senior members of companies are in the office more often. The study also noted that hybrid work is “firmly established.”

CEOs will have to approach hybrid work at an industry-by-industry level, Scott said. Most of the debate surrounding hybrid work is in offices and industries with knowledge workers. For those in customer service, healthcare and manufacturing, hybrid and remote work isn’t even an option.

UPS acknowledged that some of its workers, such as drivers, have long been in person.

“By adopting this approach, we recognize the ongoing commitment of our operators and other UPSers who have and continue to work in-person in our facilities five days and sometimes more per week as they deliver on our purpose by providing industry-leading service to our customers,” the internal announcement said.

– CNN’s Jeanne Sahadi and Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.